The Happy Land
Every year, over 100,000,000 people (that's over 100 million!) visit Disney theme parks around the world. Of these, the most popular is the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Going to Disney World also offers the benefit of acces to Disney's Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood studios.
Imagine saving up the (substantial!) sums to take your family to Orlando: you make the plans, book the flights, and purchase the tickets. You are excited - not only for yourself, but your children. But imagine if one of these three things went wrong:
- You get to the gates of the Magic Kingdom, and your child is completely uninsterested: 'I don't want to go into Disney - I don't think it will be any good, I'm not sure what might happen, and I'll take my chances out here in the car park'. You explain that a) the price for admission has already been paid, and b) it really is much better inside. But they say, 'no'.
- You get to the gates of the Magic Kingdom, explain that the entrance fee has been paid, but rather than waiting with you to go in through the gate, your child tries to go their own way, by climbing over a wall. You explain that the security guards won't let them climb the fence - they have to go through the ages.
- You get to the gates of the Magic Kingdom your child goes through with you, but rather than joining you in exploring this amazing new place, your child settles down just inside the gate, ignores the park, and playing with their mobile phone.
What a waste! Having paid access to the Magic Kingdom, but not enjoying its benefits. Unfortunately, this is how many Christians live. Here are three big ideas:
1. The price for access to God's presence has been paid (Hebrews 10:19-20). New Testament writers use the metaphor of the temple to describe thge Holy Spirit living in us. As the physical veil of the temple was ripped when Jesus died, so he has opened spiritual access to God's presence.
2. The process for receiving the Holy Spirit is repenting and believing the gospel. Peter explained to the crowds at Pentecost that in order to receive the Holy Spirit, they must repent and get baptised (Acts 2:38).
3. The Holy Spirit brings many benefits to the believer:
- The Holy Spirit brings new life (Titus 3:5)
- The Holy Spirit confirms that we belong to God (Romans 8:16-17)
- The Holy Spirit makes us part of Christ's body (1 Corinthians 12:13)
- The Holy Spirit seals us for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14)
- The Holy Spirit produces good fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:16, 21)
And these are just a few of the benefits. The point is not simply knowing about these; that would be like standing outside the Magic Kingdom with a map of the park and saying that you know what's inside.
Rather, the point is to experience these benefits. There is a happy land called the Kingdom of God. The greatest thrill within the kingdom is God himself. This benefit is ours through encountering the Holy Spirit.